Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Faster (2010)

Faster is your basic action movie, no sense to add an original plot. The premise is the "Driver" (Dwayne Johnson) is released from prison after 10 years. The Driver's brother dragged him in on a bank robbery as....well the driver. So it goes off without a hitch but they get ambushed at there safe house and they are all gunned down or killed in some other fashion. Of course miraculously Dwayne Johnson's character gets shot in the back of the head yet survives with no noticeable brain damage, unless you count unrelenting rage and vengeance....but I won't. So his objective now that he's out is to hunt down those who double crossed him and who killed his brother.

As much as I did enjoy the movie it was a bit of a let down. The Driver's weapon of choice is one hell of a revolver but if you're going to get someone like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to kick some ass he doesn't need a weapon. I would have loved to see more physical beating from The Rock but it just didn't really happen.

Billy Bob Thornton comes in as a cop you really love to hate that has an interesting, yet totally predictable role in the movie. As much as she is a great actress, I'm not too fond of Carla Gugino in this film. She played a detective that seemed fairly dull when compared to the messed up shit Billy Bob Thornton was into. Carla has starred in some pretty big blockbusters such as The Watchmen, Night at the Museum, and in the Spy Kids franchise opposite Antonio Banderas. Another odd character is the aptly named "Killer" who is a egotistical hit man who strives to conquer life and all it has to offer. The Killer is played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen, a relative unknown but could be breaking into more mainstream roles after this film.

The main cast is accompanied by Maggie Grace, Xander Berkeley and a shockingly bad cameo by Jennifer Carpenter.

So how does this movie rate overall? Well the acting was pretty sub par, the plot was insignificant and the action was a bit of a let down. Fortunately for this movie I'm in a pretty lenient mood so I'll give it a....

5.5/10

It really doesn't deserve any more than that, not in my eyes anyway. Faster has been out on DVD for about a month but I'm sure you can find something better worth your money to rent. It wasn't awful but it would never be the first action movie I recommend to someone.

What Would Steve Do? - I wouldn't buy it or rent it but if it was on TV and nothing better was on I would probably watch it.

Random Facts
- Dwayne Johnson, as of February 2011, has actually returned to the WWE as a host and perhaps more. I'm not sure what effect this may have on his acting career but from watching a short clip of his return his comeback to the WWE probably won't be short lived.
- The director of Faster, George Tillman Jr., also directed Notorious, a film on the life and death of rapper Notorious B.I.G.
- Phil Joanou, the director of the hit comedy series 3rd Rock from the Sun was the original choice for director...which seems like an odd fit.
- This was Dwayne Johnson's first major action film since Doom in 2005. I haven't seen Doom but I would also think it would be pretty bad.
- Salma Hayek was the first choice for the character played by Carla Gugino but had to drop out shortly before the movie was set to shoot. Personally I don't she would have been right for the role but she would have given the character a little more sex appeal (Sorry Carla but seriously Salma is way hot)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Inception

Okay it took me way too long to see this movie but I'm certainly glad that I did. I watched it as part of my Oscar Best Picture category marathon. Sadly I only got through five of them. I am more of an upbeat comedic kind of movie goer so the more serious ones were left out.

Inception (2010) is really a great film. The story is...well I'm not sure if it's original but I haven't seen anything quite like it. Sadly I did not see it in theaters so much of the effects were a bit lost on me. It didn't come out in 3-D but I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. I believe that if the movie was displayed in 3-D the clean-up crew would be scraping exploded brains off the theater floor. A bit of an exaggeration I know but still you know it would be almost too much to handle.

For those who haven't seen it, Inception is a film about specialists who infiltrate a person's dreams in order to extract information. These specialists are called extractors. There are also Forgers, Architects and Chemists (I'm not sure if they say any more in the film, I'm just going off memory). Architects are the real masterminds as they are the ones designing the dreams. When you can control anything you want in a world that doesn't need to follow the laws of physics, that is some powerful shit. Dom Cobb (Leonardo Dicaprio) is an expert extractor and he partners with a straight shooting, very serious Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). For an insanely dangerous mission they accompany Ariadne (Ellen Page) a budding architect, Eames (Tom Hardy) an excellent Forger, Saito (Ken Watanabe) the money, Yusuf (Dileep Rao) the chemist, and Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) the mark. Marion Cotillard provides another great supporting performance as Mal and there is a great cameo by Michael Caine.

Now the plot and the actors aside, the visual effects were stunning. I had to watch it on a 15" laptop and it was still stunning. The film was the perfect level of confusing. It isn't confusing enough to make you want to stop watching and it's just confusing enough to make you want to know more. Plus, it's likely that you won't pick up on everything going on in the movie the first time around so you'll need to watch it again, which is where money off rentals comes in.

I'm not a big fan of Leo Dicaprio but he does a good job here. Joseph is awesome as Arthur but I do enjoy him more in lighter roles. The same goes for Ellen Page, there is often a little bite and comedy to her roles so this is a change of pace but still nice to see. As for the others, I haven't seen too much from them but I think it was a strong performance as a group.

Taking into account the originality of the story, the performances, and the visual effects, I give Inception a....
9.0/10
I can't really give it a 10 because then there won't be any room for improvement and that is no good, I am eager to see the many better films to come, and even great ones that I have yet to see.

Random Facts - you can probably find these on Wikipedia or IMDb but wouldn't you rather get it here?
- Inception was directed by Christopher Nolan who also directed the new Batman films.
- James Franco was considered for Arthur but was unavailable and the role went to Joseph Gordon-Levitt
- Evan Rachel Wood, Emily Blunt, Rachel McAdams and Emma Roberts were all choices for the role of Ariadne
- Cillian Murphy has a bag over his head for several scenes in Inception, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, all directed by Christopher Nolan
- The character Maurice Fischer was named as an homage to abstract artist M.C. Escher (Maurits Cornelis Escher)
- The spinning hallway and zero gravity scenes were created with minimal computer graphics. It was mainly done with a fully spinning set and wire harnesses.
- The first names of the main characters (Dom, Robert, Eames, Ariadne/Arthur, Mal, Saito) spell DREAMS....like that was intentional....

I'll get to more tomorrow probably. I have actually seen quite a few other movies but as I said before just haven't gotten around to writing about it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Tourist (2010)


This is my first review in a little while, I've been meaning to get around to it but I just haven't really been up for it. I actually watched this movie several weeks ago and the fact that I didn't write about it is one indication that it doesn't quite scream excellence.


The Tourist revolves around an American tourist Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp) who gets himself wrapped up in a strange series of events when he meets a strange woman of intrigue (Angelina Jolie). As much as I like Johnny Depp, I don't really like his character in this film. He is better suited in a very strange role, he should be the person of intrigue. That being said Angelina Jolie does a good job at filling out that role. Realistically these two should not really be cast opposite each other as a good movie needs opposites. These two actors are in many ways very similar in that they never are quite...normal. Paul Bettany played a supporting role as a government agent. Another actor I quite like yet I did not find his performance very moving. Of course with this type of film its hard to get a strong performance. Timothy Dalton and Rufus Sewell did fine in their small and seemingly insignificant roles for such powerful actors.

The plot is sadly very predictable. I am usually okay with a plot that lacks originality but it just doesn't cut it in this case. I found that their were places in the plot line where certain things just didn't make any sense. I'm sure if you watch it you'll see what I mean. The movie itself was well made, great actors, great shots, great city, but the story line just dragged them down like an anchor. Still I enjoyed it, but I would not have seen it in theaters. Honestly, I don't even recommend going out of your way to rent it. However, streaming and downloading is a bit more reasonable for most people.

I am probably going to get some kind of rating system in place but for now I'll just give this movie a......
6.5/10
I would give it a 6/10 but I do have to acknowledge the sex appeal of Angelina for guys (although I was never a fan of the lips) and Johnny Depp for the ladies (although he did gain a little weight and became oddly ordinary for the role).


Random Facts
I can't really think of any, I'll probably get some more for the next one.